The Royal Family and the Fourth Estate have rarely seen eye to eye. From Edward VIII’s abdication, through Princess Margaret’s relationship with Group Captain Peter Townsend, to the goggle-eyed voyeurism of the “Camillagate” and “Squidgy” tapes, the two have endured a relationship somewhat reminiscent of certain Royal marriages.
So it came as something of a surprise to see Prince Charles praising the work of newspapers when he opened the Press Association’s new operations centre in Yorkshire last week, saying that they “ensured that the countless good deeds being done by people in their local areas do not go unreported.” Aha. There’s the key. HRH was lauding the work of the local press, not the national rags.
There’s a lesson here for Messrs Wade, Morgan and company. Instead of printing pictures of Fergie having her toes sucked by some bald American or transcripts of private phone-calls between Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles, try running a few stories about some minor regional celebrity opening a village fÃÂªte, or how a 92-year-old dog-owner has taught her pet to say something that sounds suspiciously like “woof”. That ought to get the circulations rising again.